The meeting kicked-off with a welcome from the meeting’s facilitator Jørn Lemvik, who underlined that the different groups coming together within PaRD – intergovernmental and governmental institutions as well as religious and secular civil society organizations and academic institutions – and their cooperation are the unique value of PaRD as such.
One key input for the discussions were the results of a survey conducted by Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) and United Society Partners in the Gospel (USPG). The results helped to increase understanding of perceptions, expectations and opinions of both members and partners concerning the young partnership.
In accordance with their given mandate, the Task Group formulated and endorsed a new vision statement as well as a governance structure for PaRD, including Terms of Reference for the three working units (i.) Steering Group, (ii.) Secretariat and (iii.) Work-streams.
All these decisions and recommended rules and regulations need to be endorsed and approved by a formal PaRD General Assembly of Members, scheduled for 24-27 June 2018 in Château de Bossey, Switzerland.
Three main outcomes of the meeting are (read full report):
1. PaRD membership categories should no longer distinguish between PaRD members and PaRD partners. Instead, PaRD members are (i.) governmental and (ii.) intergovernmental entities and (iii.) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)/ Faith-based Organizations (FBOs).
2. PaRD is governed by a Steering Group that is formed by 10-12 members, including a minimum of representatives from three governmental entities, three multilateral entities and at least three CSOs, as well as the Head of the PaRD secretariat ex officio. Its main purpose is to provide advice and guidance within its given mandate for the PaRD membership and oversight for its work-streams and the PaRD secretariat.
3. The Steering Group elected three co-chairs to handle its day-to-day business. Participants of the meeting nominated ACT Alliance / Nick Clarke, UNFPA / Azza Karam and USAID / Timothy Lavelle, Brendan Byers as co-chairs for the Steering Group, that are to be confirmed at the next PaRD General Assembly of Members by the entire PaRD membership.
Overall, the participants emphasized that PaRD aims at greater and institutionalised communication and coordination between secular and non-secular actors, while fostering new synergies through cooperation and collaboration of its members.
In addition, PaRD uses synergies with existing networks and initiatives to contribute towards a more coherent, inclusive and effective international agenda on religion and development. The members and partners attending the Eltville meeting also confirmed their focus on three areas of joint engagement: knowledge exchange, capacity building and joint advocacy.
All participants expressed their gratitude for focused discussions and a big step forward en route to a new governance structure for PaRD as well as their excitement for the upcoming meeting in June.